Sivananda Yoga FAQ
Q 1: On what grounds should one refrain from meat-eating?
A: On medical, psychological, moral and spiritual grounds. The mind is made up of the essence of the food that a man takes. Tamasic food results in a Tamasic mind. Meat is Tamasic and hence should be avoided. When an animal is killed or butchered, a contraction of its nervous system takes place on account of fear. (And you might have felt certain disturbances in your own stomach when you have experienced fear.) This leads to the secretion of certain poisons in the liver, etc., of the animal. These poisons are cumulative in their nature and are never removed or lost during the process of boiling or cooking meat. Hence, meat-eating is poisonous and dangerous in the long run.
Next, there is no difference between you and an animal when both are considered as souls inhabiting the bodies. From whichever source you derive the right to live and enjoy in this material body, from that very same source, the souls of these animals have derived equal rights to live and enjoy in their material bodies. Hence, you do not possess the moral right to kill a single living being, however small it may be.
Lastly, but not the least, there is One Consciousness which has expressed itself in the form of the various beings, animate and inanimate. And this makes you one with all beings. When you have known this, will you consciously hurt any being? Can you willingly and joyously cut your own fingers and cook them and eat them? Knowing this oneness alone is the purpose of your coming again and again into the mundane plane. You can know, feel and experience this oneness only when you stop injuring and hurting others and begin to love all, as your own Self. Verily, the animals are thy own Self. Thou alone art residing in these animals as the individual souls and thou alone art manifest in the form of the material bodies in which these souls reside. Hence, wake up; stop meat-eating and butchering the animals. Develop love for them and promote oneness.
Q 2: This creation is the result of Isvara’s Eshana-Matra. Nothing less than or beyond that Eshana can happen. Isvara is not ordaining things all the time; else He would be too busy. This means determinism which leaves very little scope for individual effort. Please clarify Swami ji.
A: The notion that Isvara ordains things only sometimes and not always and that He would be too busy if He ordains things all the time is a puerile one. Isvara can look to everything at one stroke of His Being. There is no such thing as His ‘being too busy’, for He is not like man, using his senses for the purpose of acting. Isvara does not act with a changing mind as man does, for Isvara’s action is inseparable from an undivided, ever-vigilant, all-powerful, all-pervading Consciousness which neither sleeps nor takes rest. Isvara is essentially this sovereign Consciousness itself. The whole universe is determined by Isvara’s creative Will. But this is no determinism in the sense of a denial of free will to man. Man has a comparatively clear consciousness of himself and of others related to him outside, and he is possessed of the power of discrimination and willing. Isvara is the basis of cosmic activity as well as individual action, and yet, He is not involved in the actions of the individual. To Isvara, everything is determined. The past, the present and the future are all Isvara’s Being alone. But from the individual’s own limited standpoint, there is, in spite of the fact of a changeless universal law, a sort of apparent freedom of action imposed upon himself by his own individuality. Though the individual’s freedom of thought and action is not the final truth about it, it assumes a relative importance and begins to affect the individual with its reactions, as a result of the individual’s notion of the reality of a limited personality and its thoughts and actions. On account of this self-created bondage the Jiva suffers and this suffering comes to an end the moment the Jiva realizes its identity with Isvara in consciousness, in activity and in its very existence itself.
Q 3: It has been said against reincarnation that there are more people now in comparison with the past world population. Kindly comment Swami ji.
A: It is not necessary that the same persons are reborn into this earth and none else. In the process of evolution into human life, many from lower births also come up to the human level. All these are controlled by superhuman powers or by the Divinity, God or Isvara Himself. Further, rebirth need not necessarily be on this earth plane alone. It can take place anywhere in the Universe.
Previous FAQs at http://www.sivananda.org/teachings/faq/faq.html
Courage and patience are the twin qualities of a real aspirant. – Sri Swami Sivananda
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Empty yourself of your egoism, then the Divine will fill your heart to the brim. – Sri Swami Sivananda
TAMASIC: describes the qualities of darkness, inertia in an object. The root word, Tamas, is one of the three gunas that all objects are comprised. Tamasic is a quality attributed to describe dark, lethargic, unaware properties of thoughts, words or actions.
The Tamasic diet consists of a list of foods that practitioners of the ancient Indian medical system of Ayurveda consider to be Tamasic, meaning that they may cause certain potentially harmful mental and physical conditions. According to Ayurvedic beliefs, people wishing to become serious students of yoga should avoid Tamasic foods in their quest to achieve a healthy balance between their mind, emotions and body. Ayurveda teaches there are two other diets besides the Tamasic that can also affect this balance: Sattvic and Rajasic.
The natural medical system of Ayurveda has been practiced in India for thousands of years and bases its teaching on three Gunas, or primary qualities, that are said to exist in all natural things. Sattva, Rajas and Tamas. Each represents a different quality: Sattva is purity, Rajas is activity or passion and Tamas is inertia or darkness. In every material object, person or action, the characteristics of all three gunas are present; one, however, is always dominant. Whether a person’s diet consists of Sattvic foods, Rajasic foods or Tamasic foods determines which Guna influences their thoughts and actions.
The Tamasic diet is characterized by the following foods: meat, fish, onions, garlic, curds, mushrooms, alcohol and any other fermented foods, including vinegar, bread, pastries and cakes. Any stale, overripe or under ripe, tasteless and rotten foods are also considered Tamasic, as is tobacco, or any kind of drug, plus any foods that have been processed, including those that are preserved in any way, canned or frozen. The prana/subtle life energy is low in these items.
Ayurvedic practitioners believe that a person who eats primarily Tamasic foods is doing harm to both their minds and their bodies. Ayurveda teaches that such a person will lose Prana, or life energy, and will be filled with strong, dark urges such as greed or anger, coupled with a lack of proper reasoning skills and a sense of inertia.
The Bhagavad Gita describes the nature of Sattvic, Rajasic and Tamasic natures in Chapter XVIII as follows:
“That which knows the path of work and renunciation, what ought to be done, fear and fearlessness, bondage and liberation-that intellect is Sattvic (pure), O Arjuna. That by which one wrongly understands Dharma and Adharma and also what ought to be done and what ought not to be done-that intellect, O Arjuna, is Rajasic. That which, enveloped in darkness, sees Dharma as Adharma, and all things perverted-that intellect is Tamasic.”
Light, positive, sattvic or pure thoughts are calm and can be more easily transcended. Rajasic (extrovert) and Tamasic (dull) thoughts like anger, jealousy and greed are difficult to control. The question, then, is how to purify the thoughts and experience positive thinking.
A glossary can be found at:
Develop the eye of intuition. Have a vision of the Infinite. – Sri Swami Sivananda